South Korea passes law allowing K-pop bands to postpone military service
Written by Sky News on December 1, 2020
South Korea’s parliament has passed a bill to allow global K-pop stars, such as BTS, to delay their mandatory national service to age 30.
All able-bodied South Korean men aged between 18 and 28 are required to serve the military for two years.
The amendment to the Military Service Act allows exemptions for K-pop megastars, who boost South Korea’s cultural image and economy with their international appeal.
South Korea allows eligible students to defer duties up to 28-years-old – having previously granted exemptions for high-profile classical musicians and Olympic athletes.
No K-pop stars were exempt from the military service but the new bill will enable entertainers – with a recommendation from the culture minister – to delay the military requirement up to the age of 30.
The eldest member of BTS, 27-year-old Jin, is nearing official enlistment age at a time the seven-member boy band are rewriting K-pop history.
Since the group’s launch seven years ago, BTS has grown an international fan base with its catchy, upbeat music.
The band recently received its first No 1 hit single on the US Billboard charts with its song Dynamite and won a Grammy nomination.
Jeon Yong-gi, who co-authored the bill, said: “Pop artists tend to make their highest achievements in their 20s but many of them had to pursue a graduate degree to delay their service.”
Jin and other band mates have previously said they would fulfil their national duties, as required.
Military service is a controversial issue in South Korea.
A recent poll by local news outlet E-Today showed around 53% of people supported special treatment for the band, while 47% of respondents opposed it.